Once upon a time, there was a glider boom... It was the '70s and sailplane popularity rose to unprecedented hights. This was spurred on by the likes of Lee Renaud, Cecil Haga, Ed Slobod, Hugh Stock, Mark Smith, Bob Dodgson, and many others. There were many choices available, and everyone that flew, had to learn to build. Recently I learned how many kits were sold in that era and it's staggering. However, along came bagged wings, molded models, and ARFs in general. There are holdouts, in fact quite a few of us, but enough to support a new kit business? I think not. With the few kit manufacturers left, the builders have fewer choices than in the past, but the market just isn't there. Now, if a modeller wnats to build something that's not available, he either designs and builds it, or orders plans and scratches it out.
The new modellers, and in fact, the majority of the old modellers no longer want to build. Many won't even install radio gear in their new moldies. They buy it and have it shipped to someone that will do that for them. That's not some kind of negative remark, just the facts... that's just the way it is. In the olden days, the builders would modify kits in the process of building, and some of those mods became improvements that we all enjoyed. Now, with moldies, if you modify it, you get labeled as some kind of nut... See some of the "winglet" thread comments if you don't believe this.
The unfortunate piece of this is that innovation suffers. When the kit business was booming, everyone waited around for the next great design, that usually came from innovations that builders came up with. Now we wait for the European mold makers to come up with it, and if they do... can we afford it? If they don't, what are we missing? Yes, I know that there are those out there that are designing, bagging, building, etc. and these people are finding new ways and methods. Selig, Drela, Kolb, and others are actually using scientific methods for designing new airfoils and so forth. But the pool is smaller...
So, with all of that... Why would anyone in their right mind start a new kit business? Well, I'm not in my right mind... so when I retire, I may...
That's one thing I'd love to see is more wooden sailplane kits. It's sad how no one builds anymore.
If only I was born, oh, 30yrs sooner... :rolleyes:
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